Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was one of classic rock’s greatest personalities, but his pre-stage life was surprisingly conservative. Leading Queen on a meteoric rise to fame, Mercury’s performances were riveting, explosive and unforgettable.
The band are credited with changing the global concept of what music could be forever – their invaluable influence. Yet Mercury’s early life was a far cry from the dazzling lifestyle he would later lead.
Freddie Mercury’s Childhood
Born in Zanzibar, India on September 5, 1946, Mercury’s name at birth was Farrokh Bulsara. He was born to conservative Persian parents who raised him with an emphasis on education, sending Mercury (then still Bulsara) to boarding school in what is now Mumbai at just 8 years old, according to QG. It was then that Mercury began to call himself “Freddie”.
When he finished school, Mercury returned to Zanzibar to find his home consumed by violence at the start of the Zanzibar Revolution. Fleeing the riots, the family moved to Middlesex, England in 1964, where Mercury studied graphic art and design in west London.
Her greatest passion, however, has always been music, which her mother noted early on. She said, according to domesticated companion“Freddie was musical from the start. He had it on his mind all the time.”
Freddie Mercury worked as a baggage handler at the airport before joining Queen
While at university in London, Mercury began working part-time, including one as a baggage handler at London’s Heathrow Airport, something British Airways is proud of. In 2018, on what would have been Mercury’s 72nd birthday, the airline hosted a “Freddie for a Day” celebration of the pop star.
The festivities included the lip-synching and hip-thrusting of baggage handlers in exceptional choreographed dances in the middle of the terminal (now commemorated on Youtube) and play Queen’s music at all arrival and departure gates.
In addition, British Airways invited “any customer who is called Freddie, Frederick or the legend’s real name, Farrokh… [and] their traveling companions to use British Airways’ first lounge, accessible via the exclusive first wing.
Queen was created after Freddie Mercury joined the band, then called Smile
When he wasn’t slinging bags at Heathrow, Mercury was enjoying the London music scene, frequenting underground gigs. It was at one of these gigs that Mercury first met Brian May and Roger Taylor, guitarist and drummer for Smile. When the band’s lead singer dropped out in 1970, Mercury stepped in to replace him.
In 1971, the group had changed its name to Queen. Mercury had officially changed his nickname to one that would forever be remembered in rock history. Queen’s 1975 song “Bohemian Rhapsody” became Britain’s favorite hit of all time. The band has the longest-running fan club of any band in history, and Queen’s albums have spent more time on the UK charts than any other artist, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Their 1981 greatest hits album alone spent nearly 20 years on the UK charts.
Mercury’s influence has permeated social culture and continues to do so, as evidenced by British Airways’ tribute – a skillfully executed nod to Mercury’s incredible life and an act that Mercury himself would likely have appreciated. .
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